On 11 February, the government deported 17 people to Jamaica. This came despite widespread outrage and a successful legal challenge. Originally the government wanted to send away around 50 people. Yet in a sickening twist, the government has since defended its actions. Meanwhile, calls are growing to boycott and discredit the companies who profit from deportations. One of the linked companies posted record profits last year and has direct government connections.
The so-called ‘Jamaica 50’ includes many people who came to the UK as children. On 10 February, a series of legal challenges sought to stop the deportations. Although the Court of Appeal ruled some were not legal and later rejected a Home Office appeal against its decision, by this stage too many people had already been placed on coaches and were denied phone contact with lawyers and relatives.
One thread from Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) showed what people were subjected to through the night:
2/ then at last minute confirmed they will not be deported apart from.1 person & 9 of them put back on coach, not known where the man in ambulance using breathing apparatus is or man taken off coach because he was distressed but
— BARAC (@BARACUK) February 11, 2020
6/ Colnbrook who they saw for short period at airport. Lots of families distressed , messages from partners and parents not knowing if their loved ones have bern deported or not & not able to make contact
— BARAC (@BARACUK) February 11, 2020
And others working to challenge the case also noted the huge trauma for all involved:
THIS DEFIES BELIEF: We are speaking to individuals clearly covered by the Court of Appeal order prohibiting their deportation who have been removed to the airport and told they are being deported. @ukhomeoffice are you really going to try and break the law tonight?
— Bella Sankey (@BellaSankey) February 11, 2020
We must start asking ourselves at what point this constitutes as torture.
They have been taken on a journey from London to Sheffield and loaded onto a flight which the government were told by the courts not to do hours ago.
This will cause unimaginable trauma. https://t.co/wnEIlSuo0w
— Nadine Batchelor-Hunt (@nadinebh_) February 11, 2020
Chancellor Sajid Javid told BBC Radio 5 Live that those deported:
are all foreign national offenders – they have all received custodial sentences of 12 months or more. They are responsible for crimes like manslaughter, rape, dealing in class A drugs.
Labour’s Zarah Sultana pointed to the heartbreaking facts about those people involved and accused the Home Office of “misleading the public”:
Let’s get the facts straight on the #Jamaica50. It includes people who:
– have lived in the UK since they were young kids
– have children, family and friends in the UK
– already served their time for non-violent, single offences
The Home Office is misleading the public.
— Zarah Sultana MP (@zarahsultana) February 11, 2020
As David Lammy also noted, this case shows that “lessons from Windrush have not been learned”.
It’s thought that everyone on the coaches and deported is Black. This seems to reveal blatant racism from the government:
Some of the crimes committed by the British people deported include possession of class A drugs. We have Tory ministers who have openly admitted using class A drugs through their 20s and 30s – this is pure racism and hypocrisy https://t.co/YAsGU23trk
— Nishat Siddiqi (@nishat76) February 11, 2020
The saddest thing about the government sending that plan of people to Jamaica anyway is seeing all of his cheerleaders agreeing with it. This government has given racists the confidence to come out of hiding and its fucking horrible.
— Ben (@BenJolly9) February 11, 2020
“Home Office blood money”
For those outraged by this case, there’s one simple way to take action and support everyone involved. As people were taken from detention centres, pictures emerged of the coaches used for deportations. These clearly highlight two companies – Kings Ferry and Clarkes Coaches:
These are coach companies who do Home Office bidding and ferry shackled detainees to charter flights – kings Ferry and Clark’s coaches need to stop taking the home office blood money! (This outside harmondsworth/Colnbrook right now) #Jamaica50 #StopCharterflights #EndDetention pic.twitter.com/DSp6OybgHm
— Movement for Justice (@followMFJ) February 10, 2020
So pressure is mounting to boycott all the coach companies involved:
— Ellen Mateer (@EllenMateer) February 11, 2020
Shame on @ClarkesCoaches @KingsExpress @nationalexpress for going against high court rulings and transporting ppl being illegally deported by the Home Office. it’s not just airlines, coaches can be boycott too. #jamaica50
— hands off iran hands off iraq hands off china (@lacunosus) February 11, 2020
A National Express spokesperson told The Canary: “We are not providing a comment” about this matter.
However, further investigation into publicly available information about National Express is revealing.
Profiting from deportation
In 2019, National Express announced “record” group operating profits of £215.4m up to 31 December 2018.
In the same year, its executive directors did well from this too. Records show that chief executive Dean Finch earned £4.2m. Meanwhile, finance director Chris Davies earned £1.2m, and executive director Matt Ashley got £1.8m.
National Express’s non-executive director and chair is John Armitt. Armitt has several close government connections. Between 2007 to 2014 he chaired the Olympic Delivery Authority. He’s currently chair of the government-linked National Infrastructure Commission. His CV includes key roles with other government bodies. He’s also worked as chief executive for companies including Network Rail and construction giants Costain and John Laing. A report from Corporate Watch notes that all these companies profited from several Public Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes.
It’s still unclear which airline the government used for these deportations. Initial reports suggested this may be Titan Airlines. As The Canary reported in 2019, the government used a Titan plane to deport 35 people to Jamaica. The so-called Stansted 15 answered a “call for help” and stopped another Titan Airways deportation flight.
Initial reports on social media linked Titan to this deportation. However, a Titan Airlines spokesperson told The Canary it “did not have any involvement in the plane which left on 11 February”.
But we can, and should, still call out all companies with links to deportation flights. In 2018, Virgin Atlantic continued to help the Home Office despite promises not to. And some staff have also challenged British Airways for its role in deportation flights.
Boycotting these companies won’t ease the pain of those subjected to this trauma, nor will it return those people ripped from their families last night. But dented profits are what hurts corporate fat cats the most. We can’t let those profiting from “home office blood money” get away with it.
Featured image Flickr – EDDIE
- Boycott all companies profiting from deportations.
- Sign the petition to end deportation flights.
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.